Roxana Saravia

Roxana Saravia

Monday, 30 November -0001 00:00

Aventuras en Colorado

Monday, 30 November -0001 00:00

Remembering Sandy

Hello Everyone! It has been a few weeks since my previous blog post and this one is a bit different. This post is dedicated to the fifth year anniversary since Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy hit New York on October 29th, 2012. I remember sitting in the living room with my family attempting to study as the world outside was in chaos. The days following Sandy felt surreal. Countless neighborhoods were flooded, trees and power lines were down on almost every street, and most people lost power. Despite everything around us falling apart the community seemed to be stronger than ever. It took several weeks to remove most of the debris and for everyone to regain power. My house was without power for 3 weeks, but we were still some of the more fortunate in that department. Working at Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS) has given me a different perspective on the effects and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Now let me give you a bit of background information. I live on the North Shore of Long Island and Fire Island is located along the South Shore of Long Island. The distance from the north shore to the south shore is roughly 20 miles (maybe more depending on where you are). The Long Island Expressway is almost like the dividing line between shores, and it is not that uncommon to find a north shore resident who has never been to the south shore or vice versa. So, I was not entirely aware of how Sandy affected the south shore. [caption id="attachment_13094" align="aligncenter" width="592"] Google Maps screenshot of Long Island, New York[/caption] Fire Island is a barrier island which means that it plays a huge role in protecting Long Island from threats such as storms. Thanks to Fire Island the damage sustained was not as bad as it could have been. One of the first things I learned during my time at FIIS was that the breach is a result of Sandy. You use to be able to walk from end to end of Fire Island. Visitors frequently share their stories reminiscing on days before the breach existed. It blows my mind when I look at pictures that were taken following Sandy, especially since I have only ever seen FIIS in it's "perfect" state. The photos show damaged houses and [caption id="attachment_13104" align="alignright" width="454"] Aerial image of the breach taken on November 2nd, 2012 (used with permission from NPS)[/caption] boardwalks, flooding, and water damage. It has been 5 years and work is still being done to fix the destruction left by Sandy.  For example: Watch Hill was closed this season because work is being done to fix Sandy damage and to make it more resilient towards any future storms. Although Hurricane Sandy could have been seen entirely as a tragedy, there is good coming from it in the long run. FIIS was not the only National Park Site affected by Sandy. Some other coastal National Parks affected were Gateway National Recreation Area, Assateague Island National Seashore, and Cape Cod National Seashore. Due to Hurricane Sandy these Northeast region parks have had the opportunity to work on Sandy-funded science. One of the research projects currently underway is Submerged Habitat Mapping. This research will allow scientist to better understand underwater ecosystems and how they are affected by other environmental factors. For more information on Submerged Habitat Mapping check out this Research Brief. Another research project is Elevation Mapping. Researchers are using high-resolution elevation markers to measure the height of low-lying structures. This information is important because it allows parks to rebuild structures, such as boardwalks, in a way that minimal damage is sustained during flooding. To learn more read the article: Protecting Coastal Treasures from Future FloodsLocal universities are also conducting research to learn more about coastal parks. University of Rhode Island, Rutgers University, and Stony Brook University are just some of universities involved in coastal science. Dr. Charles Flagg from Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) conducts aerial surveys of the Old Inlet Breach. The photos document how the breach changes over time and aid in further understanding the effects of the breach on barrier island dynamics. To see more images of the breach and to learn more click on Dr. Flagg's name above. These are a few of the research projects currently underway at Northeast coastal parks. Before this summer I was unaware of the effort being put in to better protect us from future storms. It brings a slight sense of comfort considering how rough this hurricane season has been. For more information check out your parks website or follow them on social media.

Check out the video below for a short Behind the Scenes of an aerial survey with Dr. Flagg

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 18:41

La Historia Continúa

This past week was the Latino Heritage Internship Program career workshop in Colorado. I must admit I was super nervous (but excited) to meet all of the other interns. In the end I don't know why I was so nervous. Everyone was friendly and it was nice hearing about everyone's summer. I felt like we all ended up pretty close by the end of the conference. I want to thank Susan Bonfield, Paloma Bolasny, Daniel Lopez, Rodrigo, Liz and all of the other Environment for the Americas (EFTA) staff who made this conference such an amazing experience. You guys put so much work into making this summer possible for us, and I feel as if you don't hear the words "thank you" enough. This past weekend was informative and full of adventure. It was another great part to an unforgettable summer. [caption id="attachment_12925" align="alignright" width="251"] Presenting at NPS Intermountain Regional Office[/caption] The resume building portion of the workshop was extremely helpful. It's always nice to have another pair of eyes reading your resume and making suggestions. I definitely feel more confident about applying through USAJOBS now. During the conference I presented a poster on community engagement at Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS). Preparing for the presentation was interesting because I learned more about previous projects/programs my park has been a part of. I was super happy that I got to meet Susan Bonfield during the conference. Her research has played a big role in better understanding the dynamic between FIIS and its gateway communities. I also hear great things about the Park Flight Program which was a collaboration with Environment for the Americas. [caption id="attachment_12936" align="alignright" width="357"] 12,005 feet above sea level[/caption] I loved the behind the scenes look at Rocky Mountain National Park (ROMO)! It was great talking to the staff at ROMO and hearing about how they got their start in the National Park Service (NPS). It was nice to be outdoors feeling the fresh air. While at ROMO some of us visited the park greenhouse. We learned about several tactics that the park is taking in order maintain the native plant species. One of the most successful methods of propagating seeds was collecting them from bear poop. The acids in the stomach aid in the digestion of the seed coating, so when the seed is collected from the poop it's ready to grow. The biologists have tried other methods to mimic that process, but nothing has produced the same yield. We helped out in the greenhouse by potting Wood's Rose (Rosa woodsii). Getting a chance to work in the garden was fun. There's something very relaxing about gardening with a view of the mountains. While at ROMO I hiked to my highest elevation! I have lived close to sea level my entire life and I was definitely feeling the effects of the elevation. Overall, my favorite part of the conference was being surrounded by a motivated and intelligent Latino community. I hope that everyone has continued success on their journey through life.

This week was supposed to be my last at Fire Island, but I'm excited to announce that my internship has been extended! I'm happy because I feel like 10 weeks was not enough time. I'm thankful that I get the opportunity to continue learning at my park.

Like many of us said during the workshop: Encontré mi parque
Friday, 11 August 2017 19:46

Agosto ha llegado

Happy August, everybody! It's finally sinking in that the summer is almost over. Summer camps are ending and children are going back to school soon. Thursday was the third installment of Alive After Five. Every week is a different theme, and this week's theme was "Salute to our Armed Forces." In order to fit the theme, our main focal points were the William Floyd Estate and the United States Life-Saving Service (USLSS). The USLSS was the predecessor to the Coast Guard, and was run entirely by volunteers. The volunteers would walk up and down the beach all night looking for shipwrecks.
After the festival, we went over to the pollinator garden at Patchogue Watch Hill Ferry Terminal to watch the Evening Primrose bloom. The flower blooms in the evening and releases a sweet scent. The smell attracts moths, which are the main pollinators for this plant. It was a really cool experience. When we first arrived none of the flowers had bloomed, but by the time we left most of the flowers had opened up. If you were patient enough you could observe them slowly opening up.
On another note, I'm excited to visit Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time and to meet all the other LHIP interns. I'm thinking about getting a "Passport to Your National Parks," so I can start collecting cancellations when I visit a National Park Service site. I enjoy traveling, so it will be a great incentive to visit other parts of the country.
[caption id="attachment_12733" align="aligncenter" width="263"] Evening Primrose[/caption] [caption id="attachment_12732" align="alignleft" width="225"] Coneflower @ Patchogue Watch Hill Ferry Terminal[/caption] [caption id="attachment_12731" align="alignright" width="225"] Black-eyed Susan @ Patchogue Watch Hill Ferry Terminal[/caption]
Monday, 31 July 2017 21:05

I Can't Believe It's the End of July!

Most of the week was spent getting ready for Latino Conservation Week. Overall I think everything went well. I feel like we made some good connections that will come back to benefit the Seashore in [caption id="attachment_12404" align="alignright" width="300"] Reading "All the Way to the Ocean" by Joel Harper[/caption] the future. We developed a couple of bilingual flyers in order to get the word out. It seemed like most of the Latinos I talked to were pleasantly surprised to learn that we had information now available in Spanish. Alive After Five is a great place to reach out to new people. It is a great representation of how diverse the gateway communities are. I'm really glad that we are distributing information in Spanish because it gives us a starting point in initiating a conversation. Another great way that we developed interest was through the social media campaign we were working on. We developed some Spanish Facebook and Twitter posts, as well as a bilingual Instagram post. The social media outreach seemed to have a good response. On Saturday we held Seaside stories, treasures and crafts. The event featured a reading of the beautifully illustrated book "All the Way to the Ocean" by Joel Harper. The book focused on the danger and effects of pollution. The event was mentioned in a Long Island newspaper this week! It was super exciting and I felt like a celebrity. During the week a ranger and I went to a day camp for 2nd and 3rd graders at William Floyd High School. We presented the traveling trunk which is a collection of items that can be found on Fire Island. Most of my experience with the traveling trunk is as an interactive touch table. This was one of my first times working on it as a presentation, so it was good practice. Aside from that I spent most of my time studying for a special family night at the lighthouse, and preparing my poster presentation for Colorado. I can't believe that it's almost time for the LHIP training in Colorado. When I started my internship it seemed so far away. I'm just now realizing how fast the summer is passing by. [caption id="attachment_12402" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Article in the Long Island Advance[/caption]
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 00:21

Week #7

The pace this week has been a little slower than usual. I got to experience my first rain day at Sailors Haven. This was probably the quietest I have seen the place. The ferries were running on a rain schedule, so the visitors who came over on the ferry with us were pretty much the only people we were going to see that day. It was a pretty quiet day, so once it seemed like it wasn't going to rain for a while I went for a walk. I was told that the forest on a rainy day was one of the best times for spotting wildlife since there wasn't as much noise. I saw a few deer, but I didn't have much luck finding anything else. [video width="720" height="1280" mp4=""][/video] During the weekend, we went over to the Patchogue Medford library for a reading program and fish printing. The children really seemed to like the hands-on craft, and all of the prints came out great. It was nice to see a reading program with a craft related to the book, because I will be doing a similar program myself. It is a bilingual reading of the book "All the way to the Ocean" by Joel Harper. We have copies of the book in English and Spanish. The following days were mostly spent at the office so they were pretty quiet. I briefly spent some time at the lighthouse on Sunday. I walked around and attempted to get to know the area better. I'm currently trying to learn as much as I can about the lighthouse, because I will be giving tours in Spanish there on July 29th for a Special Family Night. I have been told that the lighthouse gets a lot of Latino visitors, and that the park would like to be able to provide services in Spanish for them. I'm excited that I can play a role in making that happen.
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 00:12

You Learn Something New Everyday

Hello everyone! I have been all over the place this week and I'm excited to share some of my new knowledge. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am working on a social media campaign for our Latino Conservation Week events. I have been working with Elizabeth Rogers, Fire Island National Seashore's Public Affairs Specialist. Elizabeth has taught me that appealing to your audience on social media is more than just a pretty picture and a clever caption. There is a lot of planning that goes into a social media post- whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. I also learned that certain times in the day are better for posting than others. A post during regular weekday office hours will generate less traffic than a post around 6 p.m. or later. This is really important to consider if you are advertising an event, as you want the maximum number of people possible to read about the program.

[caption id="attachment_11673" align="alignleft" width="272"] Fire Island Lighthouse[/caption]

 During the weekend a ranger and I went over to Talisman, which is a popular area for boaters. This week we had a shelling program that a few children and some parents participated in. We will be having Park Ranger led programs there on the weekends, due to Watch Hill being closed this summer.  The visitors seemed excited to have a park ranger around and events going on. This was an exciting day for me because I haven't seen much of Fire Island outside of our visitor centers. I know, I really need to get out and explore on one of my days off! The following day was spent at the lighthouse with Ranger Pat. We had National Park Jeopardy and some touch table items. I spent most of the day getting comfortable talking about the touch table items on my own. One of the volunteers taught me that the flag pole next to the lighthouse is about the same height as the first lighthouse. The first lighthouse stood 74 feet tall and the current lighthouse stands 168 feet tall.

On Monday, most of the interpretive staff went to First Aid, CPR, and AED training. The last time I refreshed my CPR and first aid knowledge was during high school, so it was great to go over everything again.

[caption id="attachment_11680" align="alignright" width="225"] Asiatic Sand Sedge[/caption]

Later during the week I was able to accompany wildlife biologist Lindsay Ries and resource management team members on Seabeach Amaranth and Seabeach Knotweed monitoring. It is important to monitor the abundance of Seabeach Amaranth because it is a globally rare G2 federally threatened species. The G2 status implies that the population is at high risk of extinction due to a low population or steep decline. Unfortunately, we did not find any amaranth plants. If we had, we would of placed an enclosure around them to protect them. Seabeach Knotweed is important to monitor as well because it is considered rare in New York State. One plant that we did find an abundance of was Asiatic Sand Sedge. This plant is a non-native invasive species that was found shortly after Hurricane Sandy. It prefers the same habitat as the Seabeach Amaranth. We spent some time carefully digging out the sedges. We tried our best not to leave any root pieces behind so that the plants don't grow back. I was amazed by the length of the sedge roots! One of the plants had roots that went up to my shoulders. I'm 5'5" so you can imagine how long they were.

Saturday, 08 July 2017 22:03

A Medio Camino

I am at the end of my fifth week at Fire Island National Seashore. School is out and it finally feels like summer. The beaches are becoming packed with visitors of all ages enjoying the sun. I received my Personal Identity Verification Card a couple of weeks ago. The program used for the card activation was having technical difficulties, so it was a few days before I was able to activate it with updated software. Now that it's activated I finally feel settled in. I have been spending some time getting acquainted with our park's shared public drive, which is a combination of information and pictures from all of the park staff. We have been working on our Latino Conservation Week events and are developing a social media campaign. Other than that, this week has been a little slow for me. I was fortunate enough to have three days in a row off this week, so I relaxed and enjoyed my 4th of July. I went to the Robert Moses beach and convinced my boyfriend to walk to the Fire Island lighthouse with me. He had never been to Fire Island before, so I was more than eager to be there for his first time. It felt a little odd having so much down time, since this internship keeps me busy. The day after my break I worked on water quality testing with Cornell Cooperative Extension scientists. I really enjoyed the hands-on work. It's amazing when you can apply the things you used in school out in the real world. On Thursday, we staffed a booth at an event called Alive After Five. It's a giant street festival with a large variety of food and drink vendors, food trucks, live music, and retail vendors. There are also family friendly activities. People from all over Long Island come out to enjoy this event. [caption id="attachment_11473" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Water Quality-Dissolved Oxygen Test[/caption]   Check out our Latino Conservation Week Events! Seaside Stories, Treasures & Crafts Water Quality Wednesdays Pick it Up! Wilderness Beach Coastal Cleanup
Wednesday, 28 June 2017 20:43

Aiming for Diversity

I keep thinking about the future involvement of Latinos with the National Park Service (NPS). Not only Latinos, but in reality all minority groups. Here at Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS), I am one of two people who are a minority. I felt an immediate sense of relief when I realized that I was not the only person of color at this site. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and I haven’t felt discriminated against in any sense, but being the only one of your “kind” is definitely a lonely feeling. I can see that several people around me are excited about all of the steps we are taking to involve the Latino communities in the area, but the initiative we take over the summer is not the solution. I think of it more as a temporary bandage. We are taking several steps to engage Latinos, but what happens when my internship is over and the language barrier is once again an issue? Yes, we could have made printed information available in Spanish, but what happens when the ranger on site doesn’t look or speak like you? It makes me sad to think that all of the effort we have been putting in which will be brought to a halt with my departure. This is a problem at parks across the nation. Several park sites lack information in other languages, which can be a deterrent to prospective visitors. I believe that part of the solution would be spreading awareness about jobs and volunteer opportunities within the NPS. If people go to a park and they see employees who look like them, they might be inspired to get involved with the NPS one day. This is increasingly true when dealing with children. We get diverse groups of children on field trips who always seem to enjoy themselves, but we rarely see them returning with their parents. I believe that if they ran home and told their parents that the park rangers spoke Spanish (or whatever language they speak), they would be more likely to visit. A more diverse staff will result in more visitors feeling a sense of belonging. As I grow older I become increasingly aware of the discrimination against Latinos. I was once told that I shouldn't apply for a position because “they don't need more Mexicans who don't speak English.” Up until that point in my life, I never once thought of my ethnicity as a “problem.” I am extremely grateful for programs like the Latino Heritage Internship Program, because they allow me to embrace my culture and who I am as a Latina. We are just as valuable as everyone else, despite our cultural background. I know that even after the conclusion of this program that I will be advocating for minority involvement within the NPS. I really hope that FIIS will be a part of the LHIP again next year, because I would love to see progress continued to be made. I am asking all of my fellow minority groups to take action and get involved! We are the future. I encourage you to find your park and make a difference.

Aspirar para la Diversidad

Sigo pensando en la futura participación de los latinos en el National Park Service (NPS). No sólo los latinos, sino a todos los grupos minoritarios. Aquí en Fire Island National Seashore soy una de dos personas que son una minoría. Sentí una inmediata sensación de alivio cuando me di cuenta de que no era la única persona de color en este sitio. Todos han sido muy amable y no me he sentido discriminada en ningún sentido, pero ser el único de su "tipo" es un sentimiento solitario. Puedo ver que varias personas aquí están entusiasmadas con todos los pasos que estamos tomando para envolver a las comunidades latinas en el área, pero la iniciativa que tomamos durante el verano no es la solución. Lo pienso más como un vendaje temporario. Estamos tomando varias medidas para envolver a los latinos, pero ¿qué sucede cuando mi puesto de interno ha terminado y la barrera del idioma es una vez más un problema? Sí, podríamos tener información disponible en español, pero ¿qué sucede cuando el guardaparque en el sitio no se aparece o habla como usted? Me hace triste pensar que todo el esfuerzo que hemos estado poniendo será interrumpido con mi partida. Este es un problema en varios parques en el país. Varios sitios de parque nacional tienen ausencia de información en otros idiomas, algo que puede ser un impedimento para los posibles visitantes. Creo que parte de la solución sería informando el público sobre los puestos de trabajo y las oportunidades de voluntario dentro de la NPS. Si la gente va a un parque y ven empleados que se parecen a ellos, podrían estar inspirados para envolverse con el NPS un día. Esto es más cierto cuando se trata de niños. Tenemos diversos grupos de niños en excursiones que siempre parecen divertirse, pero raramente los vemos volver con sus padres. Creo que si les dicen a sus padres que los guardaparques hablaban español (o cualquier idioma que hablan) que sería más probable que visitarán. Empleados más diversos resultará en más visitantes con un sentido de pertenencia. Estoy muy agradecida por programas como el Latino Heritage Internship Program porque me permiten celebrar mi cultura y quién soy como latina. Somos valiosos como los demás a pesar de nuestra cultura. Sé que después del final de este programa que estaré abogando por la participación de las minorías dentro de la NPS. Espero que FINS sea parte del LHIP el año que viene porque me encantaría ver que el progreso continua siendo hecho. ¡Le estoy pidiendo a todos mis compañeros minoritarios que tomen acción y se envuelvan! Somos el futuro. Les animo a encontrar su parque y hacer una diferencia.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 17:52

Busy Bee

Every week is busier than the last, and there has been a lot of training going on. Last week we had a staff meeting where we went over the park handbook. We discussed the dangers of ticks and how to best protect ourselves against them. We also discussed what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency. The [caption id="attachment_10857" align="alignright" width="311"] View from the top of the lighthouse[/caption] following day I attended a new employee orientation. The seasonal employees, other interns, and I went on a tour of Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS). Before our field trip most of us were tested for Lyme disease. I hate blood work, so going through with this felt like a huge achievement. We started our day with a brief tour of the William Floyd Estate. Every ranger has their own way of interpreting the Estate's history, so it was nice to hear from a different person's perspective. Unfortunately it started pouring rain as we were leaving, and we all got soaked. We then went over to the Wilderness Center at Smith Point County Park and discussed the breach. I learned that some of  the other interns were doing salt marsh monitoring and deer research. Being surrounded by staff with years of experience can be intimidating at times, so it was nice to talk to other people who are new to the park like I am. The next destination on our trip was the Fire Island Lighthouse. We were told that the rain was moving away, so we took our chances and traveled to the lighthouse by boat. It was a cloudy day but the view was still breathtaking. I felt like a tourist for taking so many pictures. I was told that on a clear day you can see the Manhattan skyline from the top of the lighthouse. Afterwards we went to Sailors Haven to discuss the importance of the forest. We were lucky enough to spot a box turtle on our brief walk! Animal sightings are always exciting. We then made a pit stop by Watch Hill to drop off the staff members that are staying in the housing units. Unfortunately, Watch Hill is closed for the summer due to maintenance. I hope that I get the opportunity to explore Watch Hill during the remainder of my internship. If not, it is one thing on my bucket list for next summer. [caption id="attachment_10855" align="alignleft" width="300"] Father's Day hike to the breach[/caption]

Sunday was Father's Day, so we had a hike to the breach. The event was timed so that we would get to see the sunset. It was great talking to the people who came out. There was a couple who had attended our horseshoe crab moon event, and said they enjoyed themselves so much they came back to visit us again! This week the training continued. Some of the FIIS employees attended an interpretative training at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. This was a treat because this national park site is a lot closer to my house, and it is a place where I have never been before. The interpretative training was definitely helpful and useful in providing tips. The workshop was a bit intimidating for me because all of the other participants had at least a couple years of experience under their belts, and here I was with two weeks of experience. I realize that I'm a little shy when it comes to public speaking, but I received some great tips on how to convey information in an engaging way. Yesterday we had another informative training session. We talked about the park's current scientific research, and we practiced answering some tough questions we might receive. The session was extremely informative and it was great having the experts around to help answer questions. One thing I love about this internship is that I'm constantly learning new things.

I also want to add that it is National Pollinator Week! So this weekend we will be having a few events to celebrate all of the wonderful pollinators... Until next time!

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